Six agencies contribute to advancing CHEERS Project at Cleveland Metroparks
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is dedicating funding to help northeast Ohio communities better enjoy Lake Erie. ODNR is one of six project partners contributing nearly $1 million to advance the Cleveland Harbor Eastern Embayment Resilience Study (CHEERS). The partners are matching the $985,000 awarded to Cleveland Metroparks from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF).
“This project is really about reconnecting people, and entire communities, to Lake Erie,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “The funding will help restore wildlife habitat, enhance shoreline resiliency, and provide access so more people can enjoy its beautiful views.”
CHEERS was conducted in partnership with ODNR, Cleveland Metroparks, the City of Cleveland, the Port of Cleveland, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and the Black Environmental Leaders Association. The funds will support a total of $1.97 million to design and engineering the first portion of the project to transform shorelines on Cleveland’s East Side. ODNR will contribute $160,000 in state funding over two years.
This award will fund the design of the initial phase of the overall CHEERS project including the shoreline expansion north and east of E. 55th Street as well as the extensive outer structure that would protect the Isle, a proposed 36-acre off-shore island north of the lakefront. Project partners are seeking additional funds for the design of the Isle and additional areas along the shoreline including a habitat loop.
“We’re thrilled by the support to advance the transformative CHEERS project that will protect and enhance Cleveland’s east side lakefront,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian M. Zimmerman. “This project will create a resilient shoreline, improve quality of water and habitat, and eliminate barriers that have long separated Cleveland’s East Side communities from the lakefront.”
The CHEERS project envisions returning the hardened edge of Cleveland’s east side lakefront to a natural living shoreline with play spaces, amenities, trails, picnic lawns, fishing areas, habitats and overlooks. The beneficial use of dredge material from the Cuyahoga River will be used to create a more naturalized shoreline of parks and habitat, mitigate the impacts of the lake on existing infrastructure, including Interstate 90, and create a sheltered embayment where visitors can safely access Lake Erie. The estimated 30-year plan envisions a phased development of shoreline and features including creating a new accessible isle along the lake.
CHEERS was developed through extensive planning from the six partner organizations and refined through community feedback of over 1,500 community members and stakeholders working with community partners and local Community Development Corporations to embrace a long-term vision for the east side lakefront.
The NCRF restores, increases, and strengthens natural infrastructure to protect coastal communities while also enhancing habitats for fish and wildlife. Established in 2018, the NCRF invests in conservation projects that restore or expand natural features such as coastal marshes and wetlands, dune and beach systems, oyster and coral reefs, forests, coastal rivers and floodplains, and barrier islands that minimize the impacts of storms and other naturally occurring events on nearby communities.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website ohiodnr.gov.